(Pocket-lint) - While Chromebooks kicked off life as a budget entry point into Google's Chrome OS operating system - largely touted as cheap as chips devices to buy for younger schoolers - that prospect has changed considerably over time. And Acer's take, in the Chromebook Spin 713, condenses the pillars of premium and pricing into one sensible product.

It was in 2017 that we thought Google was borderline bonkers for introducing the four-figure-priced Chromebook Pixel, raising the bar for what a Chromebook could aspire to be. Fast-forward a few years and Acer is here, drawing from that lofty high as inspiration, but bringing things back to earth with a much more sensible pricing arrangement (in the UK it will be priced from £600, we're awaiting to hear about other territories).

The Chromebook Spin 713 brings together some of the higher-powered innards that we're seeing from many manufacturers this year - even Samsung is in on the premium Chromebook game - to make for a versatile and appealing offering. Having seen the device ahead of Acer's Global Conference here's what we make of it.

Design

  • Military grade durability (MIL-STG 810G compliant)
  • Flexible modes: 360-degree hinge mechanism
  • 2x USB-C 3.1 (5Gbps), 1x HDMI, 1x USB-A
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.0

Gone are the Chromebook tell-tales of past generations - the Spin 13 doesn't have any of the giant surrounding bezel or poor screen viewing angles that were all part and parcel of the true budget offerings.

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Indeed, this Chromebook is aspirational when it comes to toughness, being built to a military grade standard that means it can withstand drops from 1.2m (3-feet) and pressure to 60kg (132lb). Ok, so that's not much in the order of things - but if this laptop is in your college backpack and you lob it down somewhere without thought then it shouldn't cause a problem.

Don't expect high-end materials though: this isn't a shiny aluminium construction. It's got a plasticky sense about its construction, but that helps to keep the weight down and the durability up. That slate grey finish disguises it from looking too budget, while there's a nicely implemented backlit keyboard arrangement too. 

Ports cover all the big must-haves, from USB-C (also used for charging), to full-size USB, even an HDMI port should you need to output to another screen at any moment. The Wi-Fi setup is fast, plus there's Bluetooth 5.0 wireless for syncing to devices and audio products.

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One thing you might not immediately see about the Spin 13 is that it's got a fully flexible hinge design. The clue's in the name really: all Acer 'Spin' products are designed to sit in laptop postion, while a further push of the screen beyond means 'Tent' and 'Stand' modes are possible; you could even use it as a chunky tablet if you like, thanks to the double-back-on-itself design and touchscreen controls.

Display

  • 13.5-inch LCD touchscreen
  • 'VertiView' 3:2 aspect ratio
  • 2K resolution (2256 x 1504)
  • Gorilla Glass antimicrobial coating

That hinge mechanism might come in handy once in a while, but predominantly the Chromebook Spin 13 is designed to be used as a laptop. Why do we say that? The 3:2 aspect ratio screen is the biggest giveaway. Acer calls this 'VertiView', as there's more vertical height here than you'll see on, well, just about any other laptop of late.

That additional height might mean huge borders for Netflix, but it's ideal for your Word documents and PDFs, allowing more of that spreadsheet to be revealed without the need for scrolling. Which goes to hint at this Chromebook's ideal as a workhorse device.

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The aspect ratio makes up part of the premium sell, as does that variable hinge, but the 13.5-inch screen also crams in plenty of resolution thanks to a 2K display. It's an IPS LCD panel, so viewing angles are perfectly good - which was never something we could say about Chromebooks of old.

There's also an antimicrobial coating from Gorilla Glass, giving added protection - not only against bacterial nasties, but also scratches and impact to the screen itself. You wouldn't want it to break and this technology ought to help keep everything looking ship-shape.

Performance

  • 10th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro processor
  • Up to 16GB SDRAM (DDR4)
  • Up to 256GB SSD storage
  • Chrome OS

First thing's first: this is a Chromebook. As such it runs Google's Chrome OS. It's not Windows by any means. Several years ago this meant fairly restrictive limits on what was possible, but the ecosystem has evolved considerably over the years. Current Chrome OS means you can run Android apps (like you would on a phone or tablet) with little limitations, plus there's a heap of Google's own office app functionality - for use both online or offline.

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As those apps get more advanced their demands are higher. Which is why the Spin 13 comes loaded with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 vPro processor. That's a highly capable processor. But what's the vPro part all about? Well, vPro is designed for IT/Enterprise departments to streamline controls over multiple devices with limited interruption. You could use this as a standalone user no problem and not know the difference really, but it hints at Acer's intent for this products: en masse in schools, offices and such like.

Paired with that high-end processor is up to 16GB RAM and up to 256GB storage options, ensuring this Chromebook is configurable in a way that will see it serve for years to come with little qualms.

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Battery life is claimed to be up to 10 hours. We've only used the device for a handful of minutes, so can't comment on the accuracy of this - as ever it will depend on workload.

First Impressions

Gone are the days of Chromebooks being low spec and barely usable. Acer's take on the premium Chromebook market comes with much of the higher-end spec that you'd want to future-proof, but without a massive price tag that's typically associated.

In the Chromebook Spin 13 you get that flexible hinge, document-friendly screen ratio and high resolution, plus plenty of power on tap too. The finish isn't as luxe spec as some of the pricier Chromebooks on the market - but then that's where Acer's sensible pricing plan comes into play. It's a well balanced pitch all in all.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-2W) will be available from early September, priced from £599.99.

Writing by Mike Lowe.